Packaging Materials: Then and Now

Packaging Materials

Since the dawn of mankind an emphasis has been placed on storing items such as tools, weapons, clothes, and food. Previously, people made use of natural methods to store items such as shells, leaves, hollowed logs, woven grasses, and animal skin and organs.

With growing human innovation the need for more efficient and durable packaging materials has risen. If we look back in time, by the 18th century great advancements had been made in terms of packaging material quality resulting from the need for durability, ease in transportation, efficient use of space, and to retain the freshness in the case of food items.

We need packaging for almost every item available in the world, from food and drink to clothes, from electronic instruments to garden tools, from books to matches. Paper may be the oldest form of what today is referred to as “flexible packaging”. The first commercial paper bags were manufactured in England in 1844 and the first cardboard box was also produced commercially in England in 1817. Paper and paperboard packaging increased in popularity well into the 20th century. With the advent of plastic as a material for packaging, by the late 1970s and early 1980s paper and its related products tended to fade in use. These days the trend has come back to paper related packaging because of environmental concerns.

Current packaging designs are beginning to incorporate recyclable and recycled plastics. Ancient boxes and cups made from silver and gold were too valuable for common use. Other metals, stronger alloys, thinner gauges and coatings were eventually developed. In the 1830s cookies and matches were sold in tins. Aluminum foil containers were designed in the early 1950s as the aluminum can appeared in 1959. Metal today such as steel and tin is used for packaging almost every object like food and electronic instruments. The whole phenomenon of packaging has changed over the years. From containers provided by nature to the use of complex materials and processes, there has been tremendous innovation in packaging. The development of the packaging industry today is a result of various factors such as demands of the masses, competition in the marketplace, shifting lifestyles, as well as discoveries and innovation. With continued advancements in technology and products, the packaging industry will continue to evolve.

 
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